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Mike's Ilford Recorder Column (29/12/2016)

It has been a difficult year. I spent last Christmas and New Year in intensive care in St Mary's Hospital Paddington following major life-saving heart surgery. But thanks to our NHS I am now very well.

I know many people prayed for my recovery, so I have taken particular pleasure being able to attend cultural and religious events in recent weeks including the Christmas, Chanukah, Diwali, Eid dinner hosted by the League of British Muslims at Eton Road; the East London Three Faiths Forum Social in Valentines Mansion; and London Mayor Sadiq Khan's Carol Service in Southwark Cathedral.

The narrow referendum vote in June to Leave the European Union was a shock with unpredictable and potentially very damaging long-term consequences for our economy, security and community relations.  It led to a change of Prime Minister without an election from David Cameron to Theresa May. As we watch the rise of extremist anti-immigrant parties throughout Europe, the horrors of Daesh terrorist attacks, the appalling civil war in Syria, the conflict in Yemen, or the consequences of the election of Donald Trump as US President, whatever the difficulties we face we must remember that we still live in a tolerant, democratic and prosperous country. Let's keep it that way. In the words of the late Jo Cox MP,  who was brutally murdered by a Neo-Nazi fanatic, "there is much more that unites us than divides us".

Happy New Year.


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